Think One

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”
– Leo Burnett

In the last post I discussed the need for space, white space, in marketing communications. But how do you reduce clutter and create more white space?

The best way is to keep clutter at bay from the outset.

While working on some ads a year or so ago, I was reminded of the power of a single, meaningful image. One thoughtfully selected photo or graphic can do a lot of the work of getting attention and telling the story. Think one image.

Accompanying that one image, add one clear, compelling headline. The headline might comment or expand on the image. But the headline shouldn’t mirror the image. Rather, it should complement the visual. Think one headline.

I’m not suggesting ads and other marketing communications have to be limited to one image and one headline. But they often can be — especially in ads — which allows for a focused message that’s executed without unnecessary distractions and detours.


Favor Simple Words

In my free report, “66 Proven Tips for Writing Copy That Sells,” this tip is among my favorites:

28. Use simple words.

I believe this is one of the all-time best copywriting tips. Simple words make copy clear and lean. Simple words communicate quickly.

Unfortunately, people often ignore this tip, which is why business communications say …

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Avoid One-Size-Fits-All Messaging

“All-purpose ads serve all purposes poorly,” columnist Bob Donath once wrote in Marketing News.

The columnist cited a technology company marketing director who produced a slick new ad campaign designed to increase inquiries and Web site traffic. The ads — with identical headlines and copy — were placed in three different trade publications.

As you might guess, the campaign didn’t increase response.

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Too Many Ideas Syndrome

I read about Too Many Ideas Syndrome (TMIS) in a special creativity issue of Writer’s Digest.

“You don’t hear much about TMIS because complaining about being too creative is like complaining about being on The New York Times bestseller list too often,” wrote Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant.

Still, anyone who has felt paralyzed by having too many ideas (including questionable or just plain bad ones) can relate to the concept. I know I can.

Actually, having a lot of ideas is good. It beats the alternative. But whether you’re writing an ad, article, or book, you have to choose an idea and move out. Commitment is a scary thing.

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Write with Abandon

A friend of mine leads seminars that help journalists write better stories.

In one exercise, he has journalists choose a topic and then write about it for 10 minutes. There are two rules:

1. No stopping.
2. No editing.

Many are surprised by the quantity and quality of their words.

Try it. Write with abandon. Handcuff the editor within. You may be surprised, too.

Everyone Has ‘Proven Track Record’

Everyone has a “proven track record.” Or so it seems. I do, and I’m not an Olympic sprinter or a NASCAR driver.

“Proven track record” is one of those tired phrases that virtually everyone uses. I plead guilty. As a copywriter, I’ve surely drafted those words dozens of times for marketing materials.

Actually, I’m fond of the word “proven,” but when it’s combined with “track record” eyes glaze over. In fact, those three words just popped up in an article I was reading in BtoB’s Best 2008, which is why I’m writing this post.

Any suggested alternatives? “Proven track record” returns 3.84 million results in Google. Maybe we can start to whittle away at this cliché.

10 Tips for Good Creative in Bad Times

Jim Castanzo of Godfrey’s B2B Insights Blog offered 10 solid tips for producing effective creative during a downturn. Here’s his list:

1. Make your message relevant.

2. Speak as an authority.

3. Conduct research.

4. Speak directly to them [audience].

5. Sell benefits, not features.

6. Integrate [message across all media].

7. Demonstrate. [Using smart visuals.]

8. Perform a competitive analysis.

9. Be genuine.

10. Think different.

As Jim points out, there’s nothing new here. But in bad times the basics are more important than ever.